ITV 1995-1997
Bliss (pilot episode)
TX : 11th October 1995
Script :
Michael Stewart
Director : Marc Evans

Cast: Jonathan Hyde, Reece Dinsdale, Eva Marie Bryer, Jennifer Hilary, Deborah Norton, Robert Morgan, John Normington, Peter Penry Jones, Doyne Byrd, Chris Larkin, Wendy Nottingham, Stanley Townsend, Neville Phillips, Phillip Fowke, Michael Stewart, Jackie Murray, Samantha Cones, Susannah Wise, Selma Alispahic.

Notes : Best known for his role as Dr Will Preston, in the longing-running ITV drama Peak Practice, Simon Shepherd has appeared in numerous television dramas including The Jewel in the Crown, Miss Marple (A Murder is Announced), Chancer and the highly acclaimed Warriors. Before writing the pilot for Bliss, Michael Stewart was probably best known as a science-fiction/horror author, his most famous novel being Monkey Shines, filmed by George A. Romero in 1988. In 1997 he wrote Breakout for the BBC, a scientific thriller in the same vein as Bliss, which starred Neil Dudgeon and Samantha Bond, better known as Miss Moneypenny in the recent James Bond movies. Guest star Reece Dinsdale has also appeared in the BBC nuclear attack drama Threads as Jimmy Kemp, Robin of Sherwood (Arthur in The Pretender) and the ITV crime series Thief Takers. Other familiar faces to look out for in the pilot include Tina Hobley, best know for her roles in Coronation Street, Harbour Lights and Holby City, and Jane Wall who currently plays PC Di Worrall in The Bill.

In Memoriam
TX : 12th June 1997
Script :
Richard McBrien
Director : Richard Standeven

Cast : Lorcan Cranitch, Philip Fox, Scott Williams, Rupan Maxwell, Jospehine Butler, Paul Chahidi, Inday Ba, Cas Harkins, Rupam Maxwell, Louise Bangay, Melita Clarke, Chloe Herbert, Sarah Webb, Stuart Rayner, Penelope Beaumont, Prue Clarke, Anthony Higginson, David Neal, Cissy Collins, Jeffery Gear, Ash Logan, Jane Galloway, Michael Gould, Toby Kensett

Notes : Sian Webber's other roles have included parts in Star Cops (Corman in Conversations With the Dead), Dangerfield and Highlander (Finale, Parts I and II). Guest star Lorcan Cranitch is probably best remembered for his role as DS Jimmy Beck in the ITV crime drama Cracker. His other roles have included parts in Ballykissangel and McCready and Daughter and he has most recently been seen in the Channel 4 drama Shackleton. Guest star Philip Fox played the part of Baldrick in the untransmitted pilot of The Black Adder. Richard Standeven's other directing credits include Bergerac, Minder, Between the Lines and Cracker (White Ghost, which included Zoe Hart in the cast).

Enemy Within
TX : 19th June 1997
Script :
Charles Brent
Director : Simon Shore

Cast: Kate Buffery, Jack Ellis, Sophie Stanton, Ian Dunn, Elaine Pyke, Catherine Cheshire, Wiliam Oliver, Jennie Stoller, Tony Spooner.

Notes : Zoe Hart's other roles have included parts in Midsomer Murders, Cracker (White Ghost) and Dalziel and Pascoe. She has also appeared in Chocky and Chocky's Children as Polly Gore and viewers of the BBC's magical-mystery series Jonathan Creek might recognise her as the bald Tax Inspector Rebecca Knape, from the season two episode Time Waits for Norman. Sarah Smart's other roles have included Virginia Braithwaite in At Home With the Braithwaites, Clara Copperfield in David Copperfield and various parts in Dalziel and Pascoe, Soldier Soldier and A Touch of Frost. She also appeared in Woof!, the long-running children's series about a boy who could turn into a dog.

A Far Cry
TX : 26th June 1997
Script :
Richard McBrien from a story by Michael Stewart
Director : Simon Shore

Cast: Gabrielle Reidy, Daniel Worters, David Yip, Victoria Fairbrother, Carmel Howard, Simon Markey, Alan Bodenham, Ian Talbot, Douglas McFerran, Diane Duncan, Anna Marsden, Richard James, Catherine Terris, Jon Laurimore.

Notes : Anthony Smee's other credits include parts in Ripping Yarns, The Sweeney, Miss Marple (The Body in the Library) and To Play the King. Guest star David Yip is probably best known for his role as Detective Sergeant Johnny Ho in the BBC police series The Chinese Detective. He has also appeared in Quatermass (Chen), Doctor Who (Veldan in Destiny of the Daleks) and The Professionals.

All Fall Down
TX : 3rd July 1997
Script :
Simon Eden
Director : Crispen Reece

Cast: Miles Anderson, Bridget Turner, Ian Shaw, Simon Hepworth, Garard Horan, Michael Simkins, Richard Attlee, Maryann Turner, Howard Goorney, Andrew Hawkins, Natasha Dahlberg, Gary Moynihan, Ursula Mohan, Pauline Munro, David Becalick, Su Porter, Jason Baron, Peter Faulkner.

Notes : Miles Anderson who plays the shady Ministry of Defence official Fisher has appeared in numerous other shows including The Sweeney, House of Cards (as Roger O'Neill), Soldier Soldier (as Lt Colonel Dan Fortune),The Odyssey and Doomwatch: Winter Angel (as Dr Toby Ross). The part of the Fire Chief in this episode was played by Gerald Horan, who had had previous experience of playing a fire-fighter as Charisma in the long-running ITV series London's Burning. Crispin Reece also directed The Living Stones, the final story of the revived Tomorrow People in 1995 and the 1997 television adaptation of The Canterville Ghost starring Ian Richardson and Celia Imrie.

Created by novelist Michael Stewart, Bliss first appeared on ITV in the Autumn of 1995. Starring Peak Practice actor Simon Shepherd in the lead role of Dr Sam Bliss, the show was a scientific thriller, not a million miles removed from the BBC's early-seventies series Doomwatch. Sam himself was involved in research to discover a cure for the common cold, and in the pilot soon found himself involved in a murderous struggle for the secret of eternal life!

His home life was no-less complicated as his wife had died from Huntington's Disease which meant that his two teenage daughters had a fifty percent chance of inheriting it - something which was explored in slightly greater depth in A Far Cry with a rather predictable outcome. After the success of the pilot which had achieved an audience of nearly ten million viewers, Bliss returned for a full season in June 1997, and yet again Sam found himself up against the extreme edges of scientific knowledge, with plots ranging from thought transference through to precognition and a nasty dose of pneumonic plague.

Unfortunately, the summer slot meant that viewing figures stayed around seven-million, and as a result the series was quietly dropped. Apart from a repeat on the digital channel ITV2 in late 2001/early 2002 Bliss hasn't been seen since it's initial transmission, although all of the episodes were released on video in the UK in 1997 by Carlton Home Entertainment with the pilot on a single tape and the remaining episodes in a double-pack.

Regular Characters
Portrayed By
Dr Sam Bliss
Simon Shepherd
Dr Melanie Kilpatrick
Sian Webber
Louise Bliss
Zoe Hart
Zoe Bliss
Sarah Smart
Graham Fairfax
Anthony Smee

Text © Kieran Seymour 2003.